After a relatively low level of comments and questions at a meeting Wednesday, the Hill County government said it would move forward with a plan to find funding to repair the sewer system for part of North Havre.
Michele Turville, infrastructure specialist for Bear Paw Development Corp., urged the residents from the unincorporated community who came to the public meeting to send letters asking the Montana Legislature to help fund the project.
“Just by being here, you are helping out the project, but we need more help, ” she said.
The county government has been looking for ways to repair the systems that transport sewage from two rural special improvement districts in North Havre, Hill County. The districts are RSID 11, north of the Milk River from about 10th Avenue North to where the Wild Horse Road splits off from River Road, and RSID 21, north and east of RSID 11.
The pipes that transport sewage under the Milk River from the districts have, over the years, become exposed due to erosion and the shifting of the river bed, and Craig Pozega of Great West Engineering, who prepared the report on the project, said the outmoded lift station for RSID 11 that pumps the sewage through the pipe is costing the residents of the district far too much, $16,000 a year for maintenance and repairs.
One question has been laid to rest. At previous meetings, Turville and Pozega said the RSIDs may have to form a new sewer district to be able to receive grants and loans to pay for the project.
Turville said Wednesday that the administrators of the Treasure State Endowment Program, the preferred funding source, said that will not be required. The county government can apply for and administer any money distributed.
“We have it in writing, ” Turville said.
Pozega said the preferred alternatives are to use a directional drilling process to put new force mains under the river, putting them deep enough that the problem should not arise again from erosion, and to rehabilitate the lift station for RSID 11.
Those are the cheapest ways, over time, to improve the system, he said.
The key is to find ways to reduce the cost to users, Turville said.
The average cost per month in RSID 11 is $30.53, which includes the annual expense of maintaining and repairing the outmoded lift station. In RSID 21, which has a much smaller population among which to spread costs, the average monthly charge is $31.83.
Under three scenarios — No. 1, the RSID taking out a full loan, No. 2, using TSEP grants and a state loan, and No. 3, using TSEP grants and a state loan with loan forgiveness — the cost for RSID 11 would increase per user per month by $7.23 in scenario No. 1, and actually decrease in the other two.
For RSID 21, the cost would increase on average per month by $25.32 in No. 1, by $$16.49 in No. 2 and by $8.88 in No. 3.
Pozega and Turville both said the project should have a high rating as far as applying for a TSEP project, but public support is a key to receiving an award.
While there are other sources of money that could help pay for the project, Turville and Pozega said, TSEP is the first and best option. Public support for the project is key to receiving money from the program, they added.
The key is writing letters, Turville said, with residents of the area showing their need for help.
She said letters should include the ideas that “If you support the project, obviously; that we’re glad the county is being proactive in fixing the problem, and really stress the financial burden that having to finance this whole project would be. ”
Turville said people can contact her at Bear Paw Development at 265-9226 for more information.